Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Zig Ziglar and The Temple of Doom

"You've achieved success in your field when you don't know whether what you are doing is work or play." - Warren Beatty

Who's the man in all the corporate land that makes yuppies swoon and shine to his inspirational go-go ideologies? Why, unless you've been living under a welfare rock for the past few years, it's Zig Ziglar, of course!

The Wizard of Zig blew into town today to "spread" his message of "peace, love ...dope" to his corporate cult-like masses at the Gund Arena. Although out of the rat race now, I had first stumbled upon this man and his manic minions many moons ago while toiling away down on the cublicle farm as "the prized platypus" in the Marketing Department of the Chase Financial corporate petting zoo.

Usually, I avoid any kind of corporate "networking event" like the proverbial plague because they give me the creeps - "The X-Files" kind of creeps. In fact, if forced to attend one of these, I find the best way to tolerate them is in the smallest of doses so as not to get carried away on a stretcher screaming: "Soylent Green is people! SOYLENT GREEN IS PEOPLE!!!"

As I awoke at dawn to make the commute to downtown Cleveland, rocking out to the Transplants, I wondered what "Dress for Success" passed for these days at a Zig Ziglar love-in? Perhaps a black monk's robe and matching purple Nikes? Nah, Tuesday is Hawaiian shirt day.

Parking down by The Cleveland Browns Stadium, I had a chance to "hoof it" up to The Gund and see our fair city of Cleveland, first hand. Throngs of homeless, sleeping under bridges, sleeping face down in the park - ah, it's summertime in Cleveland! Panhandlers hit me up at every turn, but I was ready for them: "Sorry," I apologized, showing my empty pockets, "MasterCard and Visa beat you to it..."

Then there was one left obstacle to hurdle before reaching the Ziglar mecca: The Homeless Grapevine guy. "Homeless Grapevine Newspaper, sir?" he asked insistently. Nah, I waived him away in a cordial fashion. What was I going to do with it - read the Hobo Society Page?

Zig Ziglar just ...likes talking ...to salesmen.

"Hello, Hello! I'm at a place called Vertigo
It's everything I wish I didn't know
But you give me something I can feel
All this, all this can be yours..."

Upon entering The Gund, I am handed (i.e., forced to take or else) my official "Get Motivated" handbook. I couldn't help but notice all the business people here this morning loitering around in the halls (But, of course, it's Cleveland - so maybe they are all just unemployed).

Unfortunately, I was more than 45 minutes late and all the seats were filled unless I wanted to crawl over 20 people to get to one. Sensing my pain, the usher quickly made his way over and offered me V.I.P. seating on the floor - six rows away (striking distance!) from Ziglar and Friends. As the usher escorted me down there, I felt like Indiana Jones incognito after bumping into Hitler at the local book burning. Wow, I mused, my lateness got me $100-a-pop V.I.P. seating - doesn't this violate Zig's first rule of punctuality? Ironic.

"You've got a Buddy in the carpet business..."

Although Ziglar's "sermon" was not without it's merits, a lot of his message got lost in his Bible-thumping theatrics which simply turned my stomach. I'm all for spirituality, but not when it's forced down my throat - free with the price of admission. And for all his hot-winded hooplah, it's hard to take some guy seriously who looks like a cross between a test tube baby of Jerry Falwell and Buddy from "Buddy's Carpets." It's not Tom Cruise-Scientology crazy, but it's damn close.

Anyway, here are a few "Ziggy'isms" from the show:

"46% of people leave their jobs because they didn't feel valued or respected." (McEditor's Note: Yeah, Zig, it's called "journalism.")

"Your passion is born when you get a glimpse of your potential."

"The year the Denver Broncos beat the Green Bay Packers, 5% of all the NFL players who played on those teams came from Notre Dame and Penn State - both schools which don't put INDIVIDUAL names on their TEAM jerseys."

"Death: The greatest promotion from Planet Earth."

"The problem with 'pity parties' is few people attend and those who do seldom bring presents."

"It has been scientifically proven that people who attend church earn an average of $110 more a month ...and have better sex."

"Stressed spelled backwards is 'desserts.'" (McEditor's Note: Your anagrams are showing, Dr. Lecter.)

The only thing missing from Mr. Ziglar's inspired presentation was trotting out his Rainbow Brite (tm) and Harmony Smurf (tm) action figures for the cheering crowd of corporate lemmings.

"Gangst'ahs and Thugs. Criminals and Hoods. Some of my friends sell records. Some of my friends sell drugs..."

Okay, that was enough of these corporate crackpots and their wacky shenanigans. Fortunately for me, there was a designated breaktime: It was called "Dyan Cannon speaks." (McEditor's Note: Can't "the o.c." cast Dyan Cannon as someone's hot grandmother or something - just to keep her off the streets???)

I strolled out to the main lobby where Ziggy was autographing copies of our handcrafted and handsomely-bound "Get Motivated" manifesto from the Time-Life collection. I noticed some 15-year old Alex P. Keaton wannabe waiting eagerly in line when the Wayne Newtonesque announcer let out his "call of the wild" - summoning all coroporate cult members back to their seats - and the lava pit - for the next human sacrifice.

Peyton Manning came on later in the day to speak on overcoming any and all obstacles in your life (You mean, other than those that don't involve a Bill Belichick-devised defensive scheme?)

Sadly, I left before George Ross from "The Apprentice" could take the stage, but I didn't want the first day of summer to slip away. So I fired myself and went to the beach - there's only 3-4 months of good weather in Cleveland, and I didn't want to blink and miss it. (Sigh) So many outdoor Tiki-patio bars, so little time...

NEXT TIME ON "SPEED BUGGY": We hit the Cleveland Grand Prix! ("Big race, Tink! Yeah, yeah - Big race! Big race!")


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